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Differences remain at oral hearing
The Mayo News
Tuesday, 17 April 2007
Differences remain as oral hearing beginsÁine RyanIN BELMULLETTHE EPA (Environmental Protection Agency) has been strongly criticised for not ensuring that officials from a number of State authorities attended the oral hearing, in Belmullet, into the awarding of an Integrated Pollution Prevention Control Licence (IPPC) to Shell for the Corrib gas project.Ms Imelda Moran, one of the 13 appellants challenging the awarding of a licence for the Corrib gas refinery, said at the first day of the hearing on Monday, that representatives from Mayo County Council, the Health and Safety Authority (HSA) and An Bord Pleanála should have been mandated to attend, particularly due to the integrated dimension of the proposed license. In reply, the hearings Chairman, Mr Frank Clinton, said the County Council had been invited but were not obliged to attend.A solicitor representing Shell said he took exception to a comment by Ms Moran regarding the company having one of the most horrendous environmental records on this planet. She was referring to the unprecedented nature of the refinery and to the fact that Shell was allowed monitor its own operations rather than having an independent body, such as a university, do so.Mr Eddie Diver, Chairman of the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association, claimed that Shell was attempting to give the impression it will be discharging contaminants from the Corrib gas refinery far out to sea. Up until now everything was predicated on Environmental Quality Standards but now the company is changing to Emission Limiting Values, which are technically less stringent, said Mr Diver, who, like Ms Moran, will make submissions later this week.The main concern of the Erris Inshore Fishermen’s Association is the negative impact on the marine environment of the outfall pipe from the refinery, which will release treated chemical and metallic contaminants.Other appellants include Shell, An Taisce, local parish priest Fr Michael Nallen and several members of Shell to Sea. Early in yesterday’s proceedings, criticism of the large Garda presence at the Broadhaven Bay Hotel was brought to the attention of the Chairman, Mr Clinton, by Shell to Sea’s John Monaghan.“I’d like to get it on record that the Garda presence here is intimidating and if you want fuller public participation you might lessen it,” said John Monaghan.In reply, Mr Clinton said that while Garda operations were not the business of the EPA, he would have a look at the situation.Controversy also arose at the outset over the non-use of the Irish language in a designated Gaeltacht area. Ms Christine Ní Choisdealbha, from County Meath, argued it was a constitutional matter, and that English was being forced on Gaeltacht people by a State agency. The Chairman pointed out that two translators were in attendance and that, on legal advice, the decision had been made to proceed in English.A provisional IPPC licence for the refinery has already been awarded, but it was also confirmed on Monday that the EPA inspector responsible for that decision will not attend the hearing. Critiicising this, appellant, Mr Anthony Irwin, said the hearing was absolutely useless if the relevant EPA official was absent.Corrib gas environmental advisor Agnes McLaverty delivered Shell’s initial submission. She argued that natural gas operations in general did not pose large risks to the environment or to the public.The processes and equipment proposed for the Bellanaboy Bridge terminal represented technologies that Shell uses in gas plants in many parts of the world, she said, and compliance with legislation and with the conditions of the IPCC licence would be key priorities for future management and staff in the terminal. Rossport Five’s Mr Vincent McGrath labeled the oral hearing ‘another bogus consultation process’.“This is a fait accompli, just like the process for finding another pipeline, neither will ever have the consent of the community,” said Mr McGrath.The hearing continues all this week and is likely to run to the end of next week, when it re-commences on Tuesday.
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Posted Date: 
17 April 2007 - 9:25pm